Monday, May 11, 2009

Batman: The Killing Joke

After a month of pestering Josh to lend Alan Moore's take on the Joker origin story I sat down to dive headfirst into the wacky and hallucinatory world that is the Joker's mind. At once I noticed the beautiful visuals and the stunning coloring that gave the pictures a roundness that is lacking from most comics that I have had the chance to read. But my pleasure ended there. Having just exited the world of 1980s New York with Moore's work of art, Watchmen, I had high hopes for this book. What sat before my eyes was a ship-shod poor excuse for a story. The book is over before it begins and the implications that the Joker is trying to drive Comissioner Gordon mad with the shooting of his daughter and the fun ride providing photographs of her prostrated in all her gory detail are ultimately underwhelming. The Joker's efforts to drive the Commissioner insane should very well have involved more than twenty in-world minutes of horror. Commisioner Gordon is a strong man and the Joker knows that. He is a "by the book" guy and it would take much more than that to make him forget his scruples. Batman is an afterthought, and while this is the Joker's story, he definitely could have had a larger part. As for the Joker... I'm sorry but a normal man taking a job with the mob because of financial hard times and falling into a chemical bath does not make for a riveting origin story. Yes, Alan Moore writes a slightly intertesting spin to how he went mad but purely falling into a pool of chemicals and coming out laughing like a hyena doesn't make me say "wow, that's awesome." In fact, Tim Burton's Joker went through the same process. The mystery surrounding the Joker in Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" is a far more compelling because we don't have it spelled out in ten pages, but it's left to our own imaginings. Overall, it was a half hour well spent but, ultimately, I was disappointed. Alan Moore is a crazy man. After watching "the Mindscape of Alan Moore" I will look forward to reading any of his work. In any case, I am reading V For Vendetta next. Hope it is better.